Transforming libraries in Worcestershire

Books Published Tuesday, 9th October 2018

Communities from across Worcestershire are to be given the opportunity to play an increasingly important role in how their local libraries are run.

Traditional services of book borrowing, computer access and family activities and events are now delivered alongside a comprehensive adult learning programme, targeted reading and literacy schemes, job clubs, job fairs, health and wellbeing services and a varied volunteering programme.
 
However, as the financial pressures grow on the County Council, libraries must continue to evolve in order to provide modern services for residents and ensure value for money.
Services will be modernised including the introduction of Open Libraries which use self-service machines, meaning people can still access all services at their local library and they can stay open for longer.
 
Councillor Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: "The role of libraries within local communities has been changing now for over a decade.
"A lot of good work has already been done to get communities in Worcestershire more involved so that services at local libraries can be sustained for the benefit of everyone.
"It's more important than ever before that communities come together and get more involved to ensure provision can be maintained at libraries. We also need to look at more co-location of libraries and sharing space with other organisations so services remain at the heart of our communities."
 
In 2012, Pershore Town Council teamed up with Worcestershire County Council to refurbish and keep the town's library in its current location of Church Street. The Town Council invested money to modernise the building so it could stay open as a library six days a week.
 
Ann Dobbins, Pershore Town Council Clerk
, said: "The County Council continues to run the library on a licence and with the addition of a member of the Town Council staff there is now a library and visitor information centre open six days a week.
 
"This project was extremely successful and demonstrated the willingness of both councils to work together to find an innovative solution to meet the needs of the residents of Pershore."
 
Vic Allison, Deputy Managing Director at Wychavon District Council, said: "We want to work with the County Council to identify opportunities for the creative use of library space and we will be actively supporting the consultation to help engage the views of local communities."
 
To shape the proposals, background work has gone into looking closely at each library in Worcestershire to see what services are currently provided and exactly who is using them.
 
Subject to approval by Cabinet on Thursday October 18, a 90-day public consultation will be launched at the end of October to seek the views of residents and engage with key partner organisations and community groups before a final decision is made in spring 2019.

The Cabinet paper setting out the library proposals will be published in the next few days.